Eric Jensen writes, “Some of the smartest things teachers can do are the simplest.” In a culture where we tend to over complicate, this is a fabulous reminder.
When I am working with teachers, staff, and administrators the statement I hear over and over again is, “there is not enough time.” And I get it! Planning, learning standards, constant additions of a new curriculum, new apps, new resources, preparing students for testing and all while managing the diversity of students and balancing demands of personal and professional life. There is a lot going on.
So I understand when I am introducing the benefits of breath, movement, and mindfulness that the first response is often, “and how am I going to fit that into my day?” And my answer is, “taking 2 to 5 minutes at the beginning of any lesson plan to breathe and move, prepares students for learning, increases student focus, and decreases behavior challenges that arise during teaching time.”
Great times to integrate movement
- Integrate movement and breathing into teaching time. For example, standing and moving around during student shares, responses, and group work; standing instead of raising hands, tossing a ball to a student when it is their turn to share, or utilizing brain-gym strategies to bring full-body learning increased memory to math and spelling lessons.
- Take 2 to 3 minutes at the start of the day, before beginning a new lesson, or during a transition and do a movement sequence with coordinating breathing.
- Transition from recess back into learning time with slow movements connected to breath such as mindful walking with breathing, a gentle stretching series or a ½ sun salutation.
- Incorporate stretch and breathe breaks during testing time.
The benefits of movement and breath
- Increase oxygen to the brain enhances the ability to learn
- Stimulate nerve growth in the central nervous system
- Improve memory, concentration, and positive outlook
- Help to integrate learning across both hemispheres of the brain
- Realign brain/body connection essential for learning
- Enable learners to enter information learned into memory
- Decrease information overload
- Develop social skills necessary for connecting to comprehension and critical thinking
- Develop self-esteem and a sense of belonging
- Boost listening skills and communication
- Promote laughter and fun while learning
- Improve self-discipline and motivation
Looking for new ideas on how to improve student achievement and create a more effective classroom for all your students? I love Teaching with the Brain in Mind, by Eric Jensen. A fabulous resource.